#32/111: Battling Big Box

What is it about?

How to run a small business? Henry Dubroff and Susan J. Marks talked to a lot of entrepreneurs and asked them what makes their businesses successful.

Key points?

Empower your employees: You can’t win alone. If you start alone try to outsource non-core functions of your company. A financial adviser said that even he outsources accounting because it’s not a core function of financial advisory. Later, you are going to hire personnel for your company. Don’t hire the first person you interviewed, try to find great people and train them properly.

Build a brand: If you are just a commodity, people will switch their supplier fast. Try to differentiate yourself from your competition. Offer better service, use technology or be innovative. If you built a brand people will recognize you and rather stick with your service/product.

Your customers are your assets: Without customers, there’s no business. Try to get longterm customers because they will provide longterm success.

Build for profitability: Often people neglect that it takes time to get profitable. So, business owner give up too early or the can’t reach break-even because they started with too many liabilities. Start small, test your market and expand.


If you want to start a small business this book is a reliable source for important concepts. It’s not especially exciting or new but it’s extremely solid. I think there are enough people who would definitely increase their success rate if they would read this book.

#31/111: UnMarketing

What is it about?

How do you really please your customer? Start engaging. Scott Stratten shows why it is important to talk with your customer and how you can use social media to take it to the next level. 

Key points?

Look out for big fishes: If you aren’t big on twitter or in the blogosphere, look for the influencers in your industry. Who are they and what do they talk about? If you can WOW them, they will probably be pleased and will do great marketing for you. For example, Stratten posted on twitter that he was looking for sandals. Rockport sent a message to him, asking if he wants a pair. After some weeks he received three different pairs for free. Of course he was astonished and decided to write about his experience. This is great marketing!

Pull and stay: Try to get someone information (e.g. email address) of your customers and build a constant stream of useful information. The second part is the important one. Often people collect a lot of business cards which will never be read again. He recommends to write within 24h to the persons and begin a steady relationship.

Try to eliminate your assumptions: If you act with persons, it’s important that you try to treat everybody the same. Especially if you work face-to-face it can be hard. However, behind this old lady could be a CEO of a big company. A young student could have his own startup, etc. If you or your employees are arrogant just because someone doesn’t look like a billionaire, your company won’t exist very long.


UnMarketing is a pretty solid book. Scott Stratten writes some chapters (of 56) about social media and twitter but I don’t think that this is the important information. More important are his experiences about great and poor customer service. You’ll almost never know who your prospect is and who he knows.

By the way, the back cover is really nice.

#30/111: Selling the Invisible

What is it about?

How to market a service business? Harry Beckwith tries to show how. He introduces you into the whole bandwidth of marketing from advertising to sales.

Key points?

Have a good product/service: If you product/service sucks it is hard to market it. First of all, you should focus on your offering and make it good.

Focus on one characteristic: And again, the good old positioning. Try to stand for one thing. Don’t be the cheapest, best, most regional and whatever it be. Be cheap. Be regional. Be fast.

Decrease risk: Often customer won’t buy the best solution. They will rather go with the least risky, one which has the fewest flaws. If you can offer a trial, offer one. If you in consulting, close a contract for a small piece of work and play the salami tactics.

Make your efforts visible: A lot of stuff happens behind closed doors and your customer and prospects will never hear of them. You have to communicate them actively. If your company got a great customer, make it public. If you have increased the profitability of your customers by 25%, make it public. Beware, not everything is interesting for anybody. You shouldn’t just brag, show how you can improve the business/life of your prospects.

Thank your customer: Often you buy something and you will never hear of that company again. You already know that acquiring new customers is much harder than selling to your existing ones. Send them thank you notes. Send them Christmas’ cards. Build a steady stream of information, they will remember you and they will feel good.


This is definitely a primer on marketing. Selling the Invisible covers so much different topics that it allows you to build a good basic understanding for marketing your service. Great book!

#29/111: Made to Stick

What is it about?

Why do you remember a lot of urban legends but much less from school? Dan and Chip Heath analyzed why some ideas stick and other don’t.

Key points?

Make it simple: If you try to communicate too much, nothing will be remembered. You have to communicate the core of your idea. For example the core of Obama’s campaign was change.

Use examples, better stories: Theorized abstract concepts are hard to understand. Make it concrete. Tell them a story if possible. Your customers must to understand what you’re really talk about.

Trigger emotions: This is the cherry on the cake. Make your listen feel good or exciting. For example: You have a story about a self-employed husband who works hard but hasn’t enough time for his family. After he bought your product, he can finally go to every baseball game of his son. That’s great! Your product isn’t just a product, it helps people to fulfill their dreams.


This book actually didn’t WOW me. It’s a lot of common sense though some stories are nice. I think it’s a great book for teachers because they often lack this sense of customer focus. In conclusion, you don’t have to buy this book but if you do, it wouldn’t do any harm.